14 December 2019

Heatwave Take care to avoid harmful burns

The Department of Health is reminding people to ensure they are protected from the sun and elements during the current heatwave affecting the Perth metropolitan area. This warning is also relevant to residents in regional parts of the state which are experiencing unusually high temperatures for this time of the year.

Severe sunburn, as well as contact burns from bare feet on hot paving, could result in the need for hospitalisation, especially in young children.

People with medical conditions such as diabetes are also more susceptible to burns, and should take care to stay indoors and out of direct sun during the warmest times of the day.

Heatwave Incident Controller Karen Lopez said these warnings were in addition to the need for people to avoid heat stress, and extra care was required during heatwave conditions.

“Heatwave is a silent killer, as it does not have the imagery of other emergencies,” Ms Lopez said.

“However the effects of a heatwave can be devastating, with burns and heat stroke often resulting in the need for hospitalisation.

“People are reminded to be ‘Sunsmart’ and stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day. If you do need to be outdoors, ensure you are wearing footwear to protect from hot paving and surfaces, and:

  • wear protective clothing
  • put on SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • slap on a hat
  • wear sunglasses
  • seek shade.

Parents and carers of young children should also be mindful that children are particularly susceptible to sun and contact burns, and extra vigilance should be taken if children are outdoors.

Preventative steps should also be taken to avoid heat-related stress, particularly in the elderly, babies and those with chronic diseases who are more prone to heat stress than most people. These measures include:

  • never leave anyone in a closed car
  • drink plenty of water and fluids (note: If your doctor normally limits your fluids or you are on fluid tablets, you may need to check how much to drink while the weather is hot)
  • limit or avoid alcohol
  • stay indoors, in air-conditioning if possible
  • take a cool shower or bath
  • wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing
  • apply sunscreen at regular intervals while outdoors
  • reduce physical activity
  • avoid outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day
  • if possible, stay in shaded areas when outdoors
  • don't rely on fans unless there is adequate ventilation.

Ms Lopez also reminded people to check on family and friends who may be vulnerable to heat, particularly the elderly and the sick, to ensure they are taking precautions and coping adequately.

“Anyone who experiences symptoms of heat-related stress such as a high body temperature; nausea; dry, red, hot skin; and a rapid heart rate should seek urgent medical advice,” she said.


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